How Are Football Clubs Making Their Brands More Digital-Friendly?
Football clubs are trying to reach and attract a new generation of global fans and increase engagement with their current supporters by embracing digital platforms and publishing content that boosts their brand image. Becoming digital-friendly is now crucial for the biggest clubs because it can drive revenue and lay the foundation for long-term growth and diversification.
The most popular starting point for digitalisation is social media. By managing official accounts and profiles, posting regularly in the lead-up to matches and during games, and announcing big news and transfers, teams can keep fans informed and engaged and raise the visibility of their brands in new regions and markets.
According to research by The Mirror, Real Madrid are currently the most popular football club on social media with a colossal 270.7m followers across the five most popular platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok. Barcelona are second on the list with 269.6m, while Manchester United are in third and the leading Premier League side with more than 168m followers.
This digitalisation has resulted in the rise of clubs as media businesses in their own right. Barcelona has its own online streaming service, Barca TV+, which is free for fans to sign up to and offers regular content uploads covering interviews, highlights and live streams. Barcelona CMO Guillem Graell says the service, plus its other digital endeavours, enable it to sell more merchandise and tickets.
He notes: “Having an e-commerce business or streaming service isn’t unique for a football club. What’s unique is having the data to be able to use those platforms to cross-sell and upsell to the people on them.”
This extends to sponsorship deals, which help both parties to increase exposure through content, advertisements and revenue streams. Online gaming hubs have sponsored a selection of the biggest teams in the Premier League. These multi-million-pound deals have prompted fans to join verified casinos and participate in an exciting selection of casino games and video slots. This digitisation is a major bonus for sponsors, who find it easier to engage with a target audience that is receptive to their products and services.
Manchester City is one of the Premier League teams taking the new digital age seriously. It has employed a team of producers and editors to create content in 12 different languages to appeal to a wider fan base. For Manchester City, which traditionally has fewer “legacy” fans than rivals Manchester United and Liverpool, finding new fans is crucial for long-term growth.
Official websites have also developed from simple news and ticketing services to full-blown content hubs with videos and high-quality content that gets more people clicking through to pages and spending time on a site. This all increases revenue-making opportunities and strengthens relationships with new and existing fans.
The next step appears to be esports and gaming, as many Premier League sides have now signed up gaming talent for franchises such as FIFA and Fortnite to appeal to a younger fan base. Clubs are always on the lookout for the next big thing that can increase their commercial power, and digitalisation is a necessity for today’s biggest teams.